Carlyle: 28 things to know

Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle speaks to the media at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que.,...

Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle speaks to the media at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que., March 3, 2012. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:39 PM ET

TORONTO - Randy Carlyle needed something to munch on.

The year was 1977, and my mom and I had just bid my dad adieu as he disappeared through a gate at Terminal 1 for his flight to Atlanta, where he was going on business.

Hoping to grab a quick bite before we left Toronto International airport for the drive home, imagine the surprise of this hockey-crazed kid upon entering the departure level snack bar and seeing a couple of Maple Leafs at the counter.

The guy who instantly became recognizable was Carlyle, the rookie defenceman with the long blonde mane. He was standing in line waiting for the cashier, all the while clutching a cache of junk food he obviously was going to take onto the plane.

In those days, the Leafs flew commercial. There was no such thing as today’s spiffy charter planes, where players are coddled and where their every whim is taken care of by the well-meaning flight staff.

On this particular night more than three decades ago, the Leafs were on their way to Pittsburgh. And for yours truly, the sight of a young Leaf getting ready to gorge himself on such non-nutritional crap just didn’t seem right.

So, snotty-nosed kid that I was, I decided to call Carlyle on it.

“Excuse me, but, as a pro hockey player, should you be eating stuff like that?” I asked after getting up the nerve to approach him.

Carlyle wasn’t amused.

“Where did this kid come from?” he snapped to one of his teammates.

I’m still here, coach.

And now, 35 years later, our paths cross again.

Sorry about the food quip. Hopefully you’ve forgotten by now.

Chances are, he has. He’s been pretty busy these days, having taken over as Toronto’s bench boss from the axed Ron Wilson.

In honour of his hiring as the 28th head coach in Maple Leafs history, here are 28 things you may or may not know about Randy Carlyle. Of note: there will be no more references to his eating habits

28. During Carlyle’s stint as coach of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, the late John Ferguson Sr. once told QMI’s Bruce Garrioch that Carlyle was “the best coach not coaching in the NHL.”

27. Only one NHL coach has won more post-season games than Carlyle’s 36 since 2005-06, that being Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings.

26. In 1998–99 he led the Moose to a 108-point regular season, an accomplishment which earned him IHL General Manager of the Year honours.

25. One of two defencemen named to Pittsburgh’s Trib Media’s all-time Penguins team.

24. Upon hearing that Carlyle had been named Leafs coach, rugged Boston Bruins winger Shawn Thornton, who played for Carlyle in Anaheim, provided this warning to Toronto players on Saturday morning. “They cannot expect to be coddled,” Thornton predicted. Get the work boots on, boys.

23. Carlyle finished his tenure with the Moose with a career 222-159-52-7 coaching record.

22. Fired as coach of the Ducks earlier this season, Carlyle’s hiring by the Leafs was backed by many of his former players including captain Ryan Getzlaf, a guy who didn’t always see eye to eye with his ex-coach. “It’s a tough business for sure and we’ve kind of let him down as well,” Getzlaf told nhl.com. “I said that early in the year. But I’m excited for him.”

21. Carlyle was picked 30th overall by the Maple Leafs in the 1976 NHL entry draft, selected ahead of the likes of Barry Melrose (36th, Montreal) and Mike Liut (56th, St. Louis).

20. Nicknamed “Kitty” by some in Winnipeg in reference to the late American actress Kitty Carlisle, who appeared in movies and on television including the hit game show “What’s My Line?”

19. Carlyle played 17 seasons in the NHL with the Leafs, Pens and Jets, scoring 647 points in 1,055 games.

18. Avid hunter and fisherman who packed up his rods and went casting for The Big One after he was fired by the Ducks earlier this season.

17. Up until this season in Anaheim, Carlyle had never endured a losing season as a coach, either in the National Hockey League or the American Hockey League.

16. Only Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman to ever win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top blueliner, accomplishing the feat in 1980-81 when he chalked up 16 goals and 67 assists for 83 points.

15. More Thornton: “He’s an extremely smart coach. He has plays for everything.”

14. Having spent his final nine NHL seasons as a Winnipeg Jet, Carlyle fittingly scored the final goal of his illustrious NHL career against the — you guessed it — Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1992-93 season.

13. Carlyle accrued an impressive record of 273-182-61 from 2005-11, leading the Ducks to a franchise record 110 point regular season and its first Stanley Cup title in 2007.

12. Asked about then-Ducks GM Brian Burke after the ’07 Cup, Carlyle replied: “I have a great working relationship with (Burke) and the staff and ownership. We’re all on the same page. We don’t think about anything but being an elite team and challenging for the Stanley Cup.” Now Burke and Carlyle have been reunited in Toronto, where the public would settle for a playoff berth of any kind, let alone a Cup.

11. During his tour with the Cup in the Sudbury-area in the summer of 2007, a famous photo was clicked showing Carlyle standing beside a horse who is drinking out of the top of the silver beaker. We’re betting the liquid in the top of the mug was not Dom Perignon.

10. If first impressions are any indicator, Carlyle made a good one in his introduction as Maple Leafs coach on Saturday when he said he made a “mistake” by not using Joffrey Lupul as left winger on one of the team’s first two lines when both men were in Anaheim with the Ducks last season. A coach who admits he screwed up? Who didn’t blame the media (at least in this case)? Really?

9. On Feb. 8, 2008, Carlyle passed Ron Wilson (remember him?) for top spot on the Anaheim Ducks’ all-time victory list by a coach with 121, thanks to a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

8. With Carlyle, Jake Gardiner, Joffrey Lupul and Mike Brown on the roster, the Leafs have a very evident Anaheim flavour these days. “It seems like it’s the Ducks of the East over there,” Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan told NHL.com. “They’re just migrating over there. We hope there’s no hard feelings and we wish (Carlyle) well in his new endeavours.”

7. Carlyle isn’t the type of coach that spends a lot of time in the dressing room, feeling that space belongs to the players. “Some coaches like to control the room as well as everything else,” said goalie J-S Giguere during his days between the pipes with the Carlyle-coached Ducks. “We’re pretty much being told what to do, whether it’s on the ice or at the hotel or stuff like that. But the room is ours. We have enough leadership in the dressing room that we don’t need to have the coach overseeing it.” With Carlyle keeping his nose out of the room, it will be time for Leaf leaders like captain Dion Phaneuf to step up.

6. More Thornton: “He’s really good at matching lines and putting people in situations to make them succeed or help them succeed.”

5. Carlyle’s name was unfairly dragged through the mud in 1989 when he allegedly failed a drug test while representing Canada at the world hockey championship in Stockholm. Asked to provide a urine sample after Canada’s game with West Germany, he was deemed to have flunked the test and withdrew so as not to taint future results of the team. Because of the Ben Johnson steroids scandal at the Seoul Olympics one year earlier, Carlyle was viewed as just another Canadian cheat by the European press. One day later, the IIHF cleared Carlyle, saying his B sample, unlike the A sample, had come out clean. No explanation was given, and Carlyle was never issued an apology for having his name defamed.

4. How stern can Carlyle be? Let former NHLer Jeremy Roenick give you an idea. “Carlyle will come in and make Ron Wilson seem like a pastor boy,” Roenick proclaimed during a radio interview. Wow. We get the point.

3. When Carlyle brought the Stanley Cup to his home town of Azilda, Ont., in August of 2007, he was overwhelmed by the reception at the Dr. Edgar LeClair Community Centre. “It’s so funny to come back here with the Stanley Cup,” Carlyle said, looking up at the stands. “See all these seats?” I helped put them in. It was one of my summer jobs.”

2. Randy Carlyle is the first Leaf bench boss to have a Stanley Cup ring on his finger from coaching since Punch Imlach.

1. Speaking as the Maple Leafs coach for the first time on Saturday, Carlyle, who started his NHL playing career in Toronto, put his new position into perspective. “For an Ontario kid coming back to Ontario and getting a second chance at this, that’s special,” Carlyle said, adding that he hopes to help the Leafs get it right this time. Legions of long suffering Leaf fans are counting on him doing just that.

Mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/zeisberger


Videos

Photos